Online Courses

Lady typing on laptop with fine art hanging behind her

Designing Your Virtual Classroom For Distance Learning

By Kelly Mendoza September 9, 2020

Most teachers look forward to the ritual of setting up their classroom for back to school. Stapling up construction paper on bulletin boards, hanging up posters, organizing books and bins of supplies, and getting things ready for students is something of a ritual. But this year, many classrooms sadly sit empty, and many teachers are… Read More

Tech Try It! With Zoom

By The Editorial Team August 19, 2020

Are you a Zoombie? This fall, many classrooms are going 100% distance learning. Rather than preparing classroom space and walls to welcome students, teachers have been preparing their distance learning plans. Zoom has been adopted by many schools for distance learning. It’s because it’s easy to use, reliable, can be used on laptops, tablets, or… Read More

Attributes of Well-Written Assignment Instructions

By Zachary Fruhling May 14, 2019

When you are teaching a face-to-face course, you have some freedom to provide assignment instructions to your students that are somewhat imprecise. This is because you have the opportunity to provide further clarification or to answer any questions in person when your students are right in front of you. In an online course, however, assignment… Read More

Evergreen Online Course Materials

By Zachary Fruhling March 5, 2019

An important part of maintaining online course materials is keeping them up to date. Over time, an online course can become out of date as textbooks are updated, current events change, or new research occurs within a particular field of study. Sometimes the motivation for updating online course materials is pedagogical: It’s clearly important pedagogically… Read More

Online Course Writing: Check Your Work

By Zachary Fruhling January 2, 2019

As any current or former math student knows, “Check your work” has been a constant refrain of teachers through the ages. In fact, “Check your work” is good advice for any project you are working on, educationally, professionally, or personally. Checking your work is an important part of online course writing, as it should be… Read More

Google Translate: Freund oder Feind (Friend or Enemy)?

By Tom Armbrecht, PhD November 19, 2018

Google Translate is an astonishing program. It converts words and even whole sentences back and forth from dozens of languages through multiple modalities; you can type, handwrite, scan, and even say whatever you want to communicate. Its accuracy—at least in French, German, and Spanish, the three languages that I speak—is surprisingly good. At worst, Translate… Read More

Learning from the Other Side of the Podium

By Tom Armbrecht, PhD October 10, 2018

Recently, I went back to school for the first time in 20 years. Although I was at the university every day teaching until about two years ago and have often taken adult-education courses, I hadn’t been a student in a class for credit since 1997. (In case you’re wondering, I recently celebrated my third 28th… Read More

Leave Out That PowerPoint!

By Zachary Fruhling September 10, 2018

Microsoft PowerPoint and its Google G Suite cousin, Google Slides, make it easy to put together visual slide presentations to go along with an oral presentation, whether live in front of an audience or online for a webinar or videoconference. And while PowerPoint can indeed be used effectively for this purpose, it can also be… Read More

Writing in the Second Person: Addressing Students Directly

By Zachary Fruhling June 8, 2018

A common concern about online courses is that they can be impersonal, with communication between instructors and students often being faceless and asynchronous. Although there are various collaboration and communication tools available to enable real-time communication, one of the simplest things you can do to make an online course more personal for students is to… Read More

The rise of email communication in the 1980s and ’90s led to an increase in collaboration on content development projects of all sorts, as it became easy to email word processor files back and forth between collaborators and stakeholders. Emailing files back and forth was certainly cheaper than flying to meet in person and faster… Read More

Years ago I decided to make myself a pencil holder for my work desk. Having always enjoyed building things out of LEGO bricks, I decided to take myself to the local LEGO Store and pick up some loose bricks that I could use, finding the perfect shapes, sizes, and colors to make a pencil holder… Read More

Using Humor in Online Learning

By Tom Armbrecht, PhD April 16, 2018

Everyone knows that laughter is the best medicine, but not everyone may realize that it can also be an effective (and affective!) pedagogical tool. I learned a lot about using humor in online education when I was asked to write a demo course about the care and keeping of household refrigerators. The subject practically obligated… Read More

Authors of online course materials are usually selected for a combination of their subject matter expertise, their pedagogical prowess, and their experience in the classroom. Course writers, however, sometimes struggle to translate what they do effectively in the classroom into the new medium of online course development. Pedagogically effective instructors use a number of techniques… Read More

The Minimum Viable Course

By Zachary Fruhling

The term “minimalism” has mixed connotations. On the one hand, minimalism can have a negative connotation of missing out on some of the good things in life, a type of self-imposed spartanism. On the other hand, minimalism can also connote an elegant simplicity, choosing to focus on the things that are really important and to… Read More